Kowloon Building Mural at Facebook Headquarters (2014) / Caratoes
Well for those who have already forgotten… we reported three months ago that a Peter Yuill-looking mural (assumption based on Peter Yuill’s past series of work, but not by Peter Yuill), popped up in one of Facebook’s breakout lounges. In my blog post then, I stated that, for all the money that Facebook makes from Hong Kong and China, the lest they can do is actually pay for the real Hong Kong artists to do their signature styles of Hong Kong within the tech company’s brand new Hong Kong Headquarters… you know, to show respect for community, context, and authenticity, as well as to be part of contemporary culture.
(And duh, they actually used these same images to market themselves the week they opened!)
Facebook Hong Kong Headquarters, Interior Shot.
But instead of bringing those artists in, they put up works that “look like” works by the likes of Yuill (as i’ve stated), Pete Ross, and even deceased artists like King of Kowloon / Tsang Tsou Choi (even though there are many of his original works still available on sale… just look at BIBO restaurant, for example!)
Then I got an email… that same week. From a Hong Kong artist, who stated that my reporting was inaccurate and that in fact, Facebook Hong Kong DID hire a local Hong Kong artist to do all the murals on their wall. This artist’s name (ie. the person who emailed me) is Caratoes, also a contemporary of Peter Yuill’s. Her own work (that she’s more known for) of female figures in dream-like situations, is actually quite amazing. Caratoes is represented by some of the city’s best galleries, namely Above Second and Cat Street Gallery. I was and am still a fan.
via Caratoes, on her Facebook Work (from her email to me wanting to clarify the situation - not an actual artist’s statement - which we have requested three months ago, and still waiting):
"About the (Kowloon Mural in Facebook Hong Kong), they had a last minute request to have a tribute and a story to old Kowloon corner buildings. (Which) you still see often in Kowloon.
To paint buildings or humans realistically in black ink (which is a medium I use 90% of the time) might end up looking similar. As the goal is to achieve likeness of what is real. Just stating the obvious here.
As you know, for jobs like this, they ask around quite a few artists. One of them was Peter (Yuill) I found out later. It was their decision to go with whomever artist they think is suitable to execute their project and vision. I understand if you disagree. But that is your personal opinion.”
And there you have it.
The work at the Facebook Hong Kong Headquarters is indeed the work of a Local Hong Kong Artist, after all. Her name is Caratoes.
Just to remind you. Here are Peter Yuill’s architectural rendering works (of which he is known for.)
Now this is the work that Caratoes is known for (from her own website.)
From Juxtapoz Magazine.
This is a photo Caratoes sent to us of her her mural at Facebook Hong Kong.
And as Caratoes stated above… Peter Yuill told me that he did indeed turn in sketches to Facebook Hong Kong to bid for the same project. Whether they’ve seen them or not, they’re not telling.
In other news. THIS JUST HAPPENED in Shanghai.
My favorite Thai Restaurant in Hong Kong, Chachawan, just got Chinafied (unofficially). This week, according to the @ABOVESECOND instagram and Time Out Shanghai - a China copycat (also called Chachawan) just opened up.
Everything was copied (and very poorly) from the food to the Interior details… including the fabulous mural in the main dining room on ground floor.
The mural above is from Hong Kong’s original Chachawan, the mural below is from Shanghai’s copy Chachawan.
The artist who executed the original mural?
Well… it’s Caratoes.
I haven’t really written much about the PMQ 元創方 (aka Police Married Quarters), since the building opened its doors to the public during Art Basel Hong Kong this past May. You can read about the building’s history at the Discover Hong Kong website, but in short the building that stands is the remnant structure that was the site of the Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters, the first dormitory for Chinese rank and file police officers and their family members… an attractive staff benefit to recruit new police officers. These days the building, which originally housed 140 single rooms and 28 double rooms, is now a heritage site as well as a designers hub / shopping mall for independent labels and shops from Hong Kong and importers based in Hong Kong.
Anyway, i’ve only written about the PMQ in context of other stories, like when I wrote about Isono/Vasco, Aberdeen Street Social, and Kapok. The reason why I haven’t really focused on PMQ itself is because I’m doing a wait-and-see approach on this project, or at least until the building/mall can stand on both feet with full tenant occupancy. I think 6 months into it, PMQ is definitely not bad. There were some hiccups (ie. 1600 Pandas filling the plaza, which was just horrid) but everything else is alright actually. In the end of the day, the city of Hong Kong, is better to have a “design-focused-hub” than not. Even though some designers who i’m personal friends with can’t afford a unit here, in a way they still partner with some other tenants to allow their goods to be sold here. And I don’t know about the selection process for an “X” amount of units, but I do believe that some curation and rent-price level is needed or else the there would be a wider and more random range of tenancies here than what already exists right now. (For example, some tenant spaces are fully and glamorously designed and fitted out, while the tenant adjacent would basically have an empty non-designed storehouse for product. All over the place.)
A good thing I just witnessed this Sunday, however, is a new initiative dubbed Design Market @ PMQ, an opportunity for those designers who can’t afford an actual space here, to be showcased at the PMQ’s public plaza on a Sunday. More than just a handful of designers touting womenswear and menswear are on display here with their pop-up booth and it’s excellent. There are some good finds I want to highlight… mainly the new accessories brand, North & Sparrow designed by a Brit graphic designer, named Andy Clarke, who lives in Hong Kong. We will be interviewing him soon. I believe he just showed up recently at The Hub HK and BluePrint Singapore.
Another cool thing I saw was this old school Heritage high-end menswear bag label, called Leon Flam. Not many people know about it just yet, but it’s distribution is mostly in France.
I really like the helmet bags.
Noted it’s not a Hong Kong-based independent brand. But without the PMQ, importers would have to rely on big department stores like Lane Crawford or Harvey Nichols to get some visible representation here. And I think the non-Lane Crawford route is a good win for consumers who are looking for more variety.
The Hong Kong based gift box company, Babaobox, was also here at the PMQ. Theirs is a curated gift box with real design and art products by actual art and design practitioners based in Hong Kong. For example if you get Babaobox Edition 1, you get original work and products from Michael Leung and Wilton Ip / Artonomos. Edition 2, titled “Obsessions”, gets you original art (a rug with rabbit poo and piss print) by highly celebrated artist, Adrian Wong and his wife, a textile seamstress, Samantha Reid. The box itself can be made into a sculptural object using tools provided by its designers, architects Marisa Yiu and Eric Shuldenfrei of ESKYIU.
Not a bad gift for yourself or for someone else for 999HKD! I mean… Original Art and Design, people! A collectible!
After the PMQ we headed up next door to say hi to my friend, Chef Mai Chow, at her SUPER FAMOUS and SUPER DELICIOUS bao stand, Little Bao.
She and her partner, Samantha Wong, from Little Square Street, were hosting a full on event for VANS (the shoes), with a block party, and a limited day-only menu which consisted of a 3-blend Angus Beef Bao Burger, Mirin Caramel Fires with sprinkles of furikake, and a delicious PBJ Ice Cream Bao (with Szechuan Strawberry Sauce.)
I mean…like what else can I say? Nothing. It’s sublime food.
Met up with amazing friends, Thierry, the feng shui master (who found a fry with a letter “J” on it.)
And this fashion family, Thierry, an expectant mom Ingrid, and Charlotte, a blog stylista plus app developer of the super successful SPOTTLY app (which will be debuting in two weeks for Android, yay.)
To finish the day, a few of us went to PMQ’s Aberdeen Street Social for a sunset sundowner, namely to drink a spicy Whisky based cocktail. Delicious. (That’s an Adrian Wong piece in the back… the barber parlor lights.)
PMQ, and surrounding businesses… lots to offer for those looking for style and design from independent business owners with a cup of coffee a good bao in Hong Kong.
VISIT Design Market @ PMQ . Corner of Aberdeen Street and Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong / CARRY North & Sparrow / CARRY Leon Flam / GIFT Babaobox / EAT Little Bao . 66 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong . T:+852-21940202 . No Reservation / DRINK Aberdeen Street Social . PMQ, GF, JPC, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong . T:+852-28660300